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Wildlife-friendly workout at Betchworth Quarry

Electricity workers spent a day at a Surrey quarry preserving a special habitat for flowers and insects.

From Press releases - 27 October 2015 12:00 AM

Wildlife-friendly workout at Betchworth Quarry 1.jpg

Electricity workers spent a day at a Surrey quarry preserving a special habitat for flowers and insects.

Twenty staff from UK Power Networks visited Betchworth Quarry Nature Reserve near Dorking on Thursday (October 22) to clear vegetation from overgrown chalk grassland so meadow flowers can return.

In spring and summer chalk grasslands spring to life with swathes of colourful flowers, such as cowslips, orchids and butterflies, but without light they are smothered and stay dormant in the ground. The old lime kilns at Betchworth are being restored to preserve the industrial heritage and provide a home for bats to hibernate. Cracks in the kilns are retained where possible to give the bats access.

Paul Judd, a distribution planning engineer at UK Power Networks, who organised the conservation challenge for his colleagues, said: “At our first site we were removing clumps of buddleia bushes which were swamping a young hedge that needed bringing back to life. Clearing the scrub away gives goats a chance to get in there and graze the land and they will complete the job we started.

“In our second location we chopped down self-sown trees which were closing in and preventing sunlight from reaching the woodland floor. That gives the native flora and fauna a chance to grow again. It was hard work and used muscles we don’t often use in the office. It’s a really good workout.

“This is our fifth year working with the wildlife trust thanks to our partnership and it’s a pleasure to support them. The places we work in are always well off the beaten track and our efforts are appreciated.”

Rachael Thornley, ranger at the Surrey Wildlife Trust reserve, said: “The team from UK Power Networks are brilliant. They work so hard and achieve so much for us on this important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – and the best bit is we always have such fun.  We can’t wait for them to come again!”

UK Power Networks keeps the lights on across a large part of Surrey, regardless of who customers pay their electricity bills to. The company gives its 5,600-strong workforce two days paid leave each year to volunteer or fundraise in the community. Last year its employees spent more than 4,200 volunteering hours working with local charities and conservation groups, making 2014 its biggest ever year of volunteering.